Thoughts on Undertale (True Pacifist Run Complete)

Wow, it’s been a while since I had an excuse to post something here! WordPress looks super different now, what is this? It actually looks kinda nice. Well anyway. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the neutral and true pacifist endings! I might update this later with, that other ending too. Time to vomit some text onto a page! I’m not particularly caring for presentation right now, I just wanna type some thoughts out as they come to me, get it out of my system.


Undertale! It’s the game on everyone’s lips right now. I’m not really one to follow trends for the sake of it, but when I first saw it, I knew that this was the kind of game that appealed to me on so many levels. Lovable dialogue and characters, laugh out loud humour, thought-provoking story, charming pixel art, amazing soundtrack, tricky puzzles, action-packed gameplay (in a turn-based RPG even!), and numerous unique gameplay mechanics: the option to spare every enemy you see through dialogue puzzles, and the fact that the game remembers everything you’ve done on some level. And of course, there’s the way that it combines these narrative elements into the gameplay. It’s reminiscent of a few of the good Visual Novels I’ve played, and I can see the influences of games like Earthbound in the design, and I even get some Metal Gear Solid 2 vibes from the psychology behind it. Mhm, this is definitely an Aspirety game. I was hooked after the first hour!

So by now I’ve had the chance to play through the game as a pacifist, seeing the neutral ending and eventually the true ending, and I have to say, this game is freaking amazing. It delivered on just about everything I hoped for. But, that’s not to say that the game isn’t without its problems! No, the gameplay was pretty much perfect for me, as it managed to stay fresh with plenty of twists with each new encounter, and it presented a difficult yet fair challenge the entire time. I love the way that the game becomes much harder if you want to be a pacifist; it really makes you work for that happy ending. No, my biggest problems with this game are in the narrative.

Let’s start by looking at the prologue with Toriel. This is what really got me hooked on the game. Being confronted with a situation in which talking does no good, and at the time Mercy seems ineffective as well, and originally I accidentally ended up killing her. I had so much regret that I reset my game and started again, even if I knew this was cowardly, and found a way to save her. The way that the game develops this sense of agency in the player is amazing, but it also manipulates that by judging you for your every action. It starts from the moment Toriel scares you into acting independently by walking down the room on your own, until forcing her to confront her and decide what kind of future you’re going to lead once you step out. And then there’s Flowey, who knows what you did, even if you reset. But, there’s a problem here. The whole Determination concept is something which makes Undertale’s narrative so powerful and unique, but the issue is that if you go back and save Toriel, Flowey pretty much spoils the twist then and there. And, it IS a twist! Entering the game you don’t expect that going back and loading an old save to undo something you’ve done would have any permanent side effects, but more than that, very few people would imagine that the ability to save and load is incorporated into the narrative as an important plot point. That’s very clever, but it’s also perfectly suited to an amazing twist at the end of the game. “Oh my god, it was my determination that got me this far!” But if you save Toriel, the game robs you of that revelation because Flowey shoves it in your face. “So you have inherited the power to shape this world to your will, to save.” When I heard that I was just thinking, god dammit Flowey, you’re spoiling a plot twist! Maybe it’s my fault for going back like that, but I really wish that they saved this card until the very end. The game could’ve used that twist much more effectively than it did.

Another issue I have with the narrative is the bipolar tone of the game. Sure, I can get behind the duality of the genocide and pacifist paths, that’s clever. I can appreciate that sometimes the comic relief steps aside for some very serious twists and turns, I thought the normal ending was amazing, and really gave me this sense of overwhelming despair while fighting against Flowey, which I had to fight hard to overcome through my determination. But the one thing that really damaged my immersion was the sudden twist in the true pacifist ending. What do you get as a result of befriending everyone and making everyone happy? You get to see the true lab, where the game suddenly goes full horror out of nowhere and you have to confront these abominations of twisted science in a super creepy laboratory. I mean, this could’ve been okay, if it wasn’t for the fact that the situation is completely resolved by Alphys ‘telling the truth’ and sending all the amalgamations home to their families. I mean, what kind of a resolution was that? In the final goodbyes, you see all the amalgamations living happily with their families, and it’s just like, how? How did we go from existential horror to “and they all lived happily ever after” so easily? I can’t stomach it.

This also ties into my problems with the true ending. Yeah, I didn’t really like it that much! After you finish in the true lab, you get to the final confrontation with Asgore, which was originally my favourite part of the game, and then it’s just, HEY all your friends are here to stop this from happening, yaaaay friendship! But OH NO Flowey is back, but it’s okay because he’s fighting you because he loooves you! Not to say that ending didn’t have emotional impact, but it just felt really cheap compared to everything that came before. And the worst part is how it was ultimately resolved. The barrier is broken, and all the monsters return to the surface world, and they all lived happily ever after. Except, when you really think about it, that doesn’t make sense! We know that the humans and monsters were on bad enough terms to go to war and for the monsters to be banished underground, and that the last encounter the two races had was full of violence and spite. Why would they think that everything would be better once they escaped? I’m sure that leaving for the surface would invite many more problems! Without a massive political struggle, it’s hard to imagine that they could avoid persecution from the human races. They’d have to fight very hard to avoid a war, let alone secure their rights. I just find it a really difficult ending to stomach. It’s as if the writers knew the players wouldn’t be satisfied with the normal ending where everyone stays underground, and shoehorned this happy ending in without thought of the implications. While the rest of the game had some surprisingly adult themes, this ending felt like a children’s book, which I have difficulty accepting. I’m sure plenty of people will be satisfied with this ending, but it just felt way too ‘easy’ for me. This is another case of an “It’s not enough” ending damaging the overall narrative. That’s only a spoiler if you know what I’m talking about.

I’m writing this right now to draw attention to some of the glaring flaws in the game’s writing that I can’t ignore. As of now, my favourite ending has to be the normal ending, even if it wasn’t super conclusive. The true ending just left a bad taste in my mouth. All that said, this game is still a must-play. I’ve mentioned many of the merits of this game above, but the one thing that really stands out for me is the sense of agency this game instills in the player. This isn’t a FPS where you’re a pawn whose role is to shoot the enemy and progress through the game. This is a game where you are given tremendous freedom to decide how you’ll play the game, and what kind of result you’ll achieve through your actions. It’s very introspective, you have to put a lot of thought into your every action, because every action is judged. There are other games that do similar things, but this one still stands out amongst them. It’s a unique experience I’d recommend to anyone who appreciates unique and memorable experiences in gaming, or even as a story, despite its flaws.

Biggest highlight for me so far would have to be the final fight with Asgore in the normal ending. He’s such an amazing character. Through people’s conflicting descriptions of him, I was really curious how he could be thought of as a soft-hearted pushover and also a merciless warrior at the same time, and it turns out, he really was both. Kind and carefree to those under his rule, but still able to take innocent lives in cold blood for the sake of his people. Now THAT is a good villain. And so, I’d spent the entire game up to that point getting through without having to kill anyone, and when Asgore destroys your option to give mercy, it hit me hard. But still, I was determined to stop him without murder, I tried everything I could think of. The game dangled a tiny thread of hope before me once I died, as it acknowledged my deaths through the dialogue. The more deaths I accumulated, the reaction from Asgore would change, so I died 10 times to see if I could change anything. And then, that hope was stolen from me as the dialogue changed to “You tell him he’s killed you countless times before”, and I knew that then that I had no other option. Well, I at least considered the possibility that this was a trick to stop me from trying any more, and died one more time, but alas, nothing changed. It was at that point that I knew that the game knew exactly what I was trying to do, and manipulated me with this bait of hope, before forcing me to do something I desperately wanted to avoid. In the end it turned out okay, but the process that lead to that point, where the game and I were sharing this dance of predicting each other, that was an amazing experience I’ll never forget. The fact that the game can generate these unique emotional experiences for me is worthy of endless praise. This is what the video game medium is truly capable of; genuine player investment.

So, how will I feel once I’ve experienced the Genocide run, where I have to put aside my own wants and values for the sake of unseen content? Where I have to drive the stake through my allies and become a villain? I’m kind of terrified, and that makes me excited.

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How can we transform Umineko into a Game? Establishing a basis for constructing Gameboards.

Hey guys, sorry it’s been a while since my last real post here. Various things, like for example, have been taking up my time lately, and to be honest, posting blogs here has become much less of a priority right now. It’s reached the point where my Rewrite reflections are on indefinite hiatus. If I don’t end up finishing them, it might be worth revisiting Rewrite from the beginning for in the future, but I haven’t decided anything yet. I apologise to everyone who’s been waiting on those – I’m just not feeling it right now.

Empty Chair

Anyway, lately I’ve been thinking about Umineko, and how its formula could be transformed into a game. It’s easy for anybody reading Umineko to imagine taking up the role of Beatrice and creating their own Gameboard to challenge someone with. I personally know a few fans of Umineko who have attempted to establish their own game, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus of how to turn Umineko into a game. I’m writing here today in the hope of giving people who are interested in creating their own Umineko games a starting point; a basis to build upon. It should go without saying, but this post contains spoilers for all eight episodes of Umineko.

But if you want a relatively spoiler-free summary, click here.

After giving it some thought, I’ve identified three distinct types of games that could be constructed from the Umineko formula. Here, I’ve provided some basic rulesets that creators can build upon if they so choose.

1. Static Puzzle

A static, non-interactive game that can be solved by anyone in their own time. It is published by the Game Master in its entirety with all clues presented, read by the Challenger, and from the clues it is possible for the Challenger to reach a solution. An in-text example of this is Bernkastel’s Gameboard from Episode 8 with the purple text.

The latter two are interactive role-playing games, with one distinct difference.

2. Meta RPG

An interactive role-playing game where the Game Master invites one or more people to challenge her. The Gameboard can be presented all at once like the static puzzle, or gradually revealed over time, but the Challenger needs to be provided with the opportunity to cross blades with the Game Master; each side wielding the Red and Blue truth to force their opponent into checkmate. It is distinguished from the third type by the fact that the Challengers in this game cannot directly interact with the Gameboard in any way.

3. Real-Time RPG

An interactive role-playing game where the Game Master invites one or more people to challenge her. In this type, the Gameboard is presented to the Challengers in real time. The Challengers each control a piece on the Gameboard, while the Game Master narrates the events happening on the Gameboard to the Challengers, explaining everything they see and hear and giving them opportunities to choose how their piece will act on the Gameboard. At any point in time the Challengers or Game Master can pause Gameboard to interact on the Meta level, and exchange Red and Blue truths. Following the rules established by Lambdadelta in Episode 5, at the time the Gameboard reaches its end, the final battle will take place on the Meta level to determine a winner, requiring the Game Master to respond to all Blue with Red.

I think you’ll find that as we progress from the first to third types, they increase in difficulty to set up and play, but also in the amount of potential for entertainment they hold. I’ve tried to leave these different classifications as open as possible, so as not to place unnecessary limitations on anybody who might decide to use any of these as the basis for their game. Really, people can do whatever they want with this. It doesn’t have to be set on Rokkenjima, it doesn’t even have to be about a witch. What makes the Umineko formula so interesting to me is the meta, and the red and blue truth. But people could add all sorts of custom rules to their games to keep them interesting and unique.

Here’s a couple of ideas I’ve had in my head since establishing this basis. Type 1 seems to be the kind of thing you can publish anywhere and let people solve it, but Type 2 seems like a perfect fit for message boards to me. I’ve already seen an example of this online, but basically the Game Master would post their Gameboard on a forum, and invite anybody on the forum to attempt to jump in and add their own blue statements for the GM to respond to. The example I saw of this had the GM post the Gameboard in 5-10 segments, allowing Challengers to wield the blue truth at any time in-between, but you could just as easily post the entirety of the Gameboard in one post and let the Meta game unfold from there.

Type 3 seems like it would be played best in person or through real-time online voice or text chat, maybe with a map to visibly move pieces around, like Dungeons & Dragons and the like. But one idea I had was having the Game Master invite a single challenger to their game, communicating through voice or video, and streaming their game for the whole world to see. This could work for Type 2 or 3. You could even turn it into a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire sort of thing, where the Challenger can ask the stream viewers questions a limited number of times to gain some new perspective and ideas.

Type 3 has all sorts of custom rules you could put in place to make things interesting. Umineko itself has plenty of fodder for different ideas, like providing the challenger with tools like the duct tape or other special agencies to establish red truth without the consent of the Game Master. You could choose whether or not to incorporate Knox or Van Dine’s rules. Or you could decide on whether or not to allow the Challenger to adopt an EP6 Erika style of play, where the Challenger becomes the aggressor in an attempt to corner the Game Master into a logic error, conceding victory to the Challenger.

Or, another more exotic idea I had: you could mix up Type 3 even further by having an entire group of Challengers controlling pieces on the Gameboard, but one of the Challengers is secretly the culprit. They would be interacting with the other Challengers pretending to advance the story and corner the Game Master, but secretly working with the Game Master to throw the other Challengers off the trail. The trick here would be that any narration the Game Master makes about what the culprit piece sees or hears could be falsified. So for example, if the culprit piece splits off from the rest of the players on the Gameboard, the Game Master would be able to work with the culprit Challenger to construct a completely false narrative about what they did after they left, perhaps allowing the murders to take place in that time. As a result, the Challengers would need to spend time questioning each other to determine whether they can trust each other, while trying to determine which one is the culprit. I really like this idea, but it would probably be very difficult, and require a high level of competency from all players involved. It also shifts the focus away from the Game Master and more onto the Challengers themselves.

Of course, a simpler idea would be to incorporate something similar to the purple text rule in Episode 8, where only the culprits are allowed to lie to the Challenger’s piece. Throw in some detective’s authority and theatregoing authority too if you want to make things a bit easier on the Challenger.

Well, here’s just some ideas I’ve had. What do you think of my three types of games? Do you think they’re pretty solid, or is there room for dispute? Is there perhaps a 4th or 5th type I haven’t considered?

Do you have any other ideas of different rules you could use to create an interesting game from this basis? Please let me know if you have any more ideas, there’s bound to be an unlimited number of different rules you could add onto these three base games I’ve thought of.

Would you yourself consider using one of these three bases for constructing your own game? If anyone does decide to do so, please let me know, because I would love to see them. Or if you’ve even created your own game that doesn’t subscribe to these bases, I’d be interested to see it nonetheless.

All this talk about games almost makes me want to construct my own game…

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Thoughts of an aging Otaku

I’m 22 this year, going on 23, and I love Anime. Not to say I love all Anime; over the years I’ve been watching I’ve acquired a more developed appreciation for the medium. You won’t hear me singing praises of Sword Art Online, yet nothing gets me more excited than discussing Umineko or Little Busters.

I’m writing today because I’ve recently noticed that all of a sudden, most of my peers are dropping this hobby. It seems I’ve reached the age where this kind of thing isn’t as socially accepted as it once was. I know I’m still young, but it’s only going to become more of an issue as I continue to age. The average Anime convention attendee is about 5 years my junior; it’s not long before I start feeling out of place.

I made a lot of my current friends through connections based on a mutual love of Anime and related Japanese culture. What I’m seeing now is majority of those friends are abandoning that hobby, with varying comments from “I don’t have time for it any more” to “I’ve grown out of it”. I know rationally this shouldn’t affect me, but seeing it happen to all my friends leaves me with an irrational feeling of loss that I’m still learning how to cope with. For many of them, this mutual interest is what sustains our relationship, and losing that common thread can be devastating. But that’s not the only issue. Hearing comments like that causes me to seriously question my hobby, and how it influences my identity as an adult. Most of us are only able to continue hobbies like these because we have the acceptance of our peers and some of assurance that it’s okay to like the things we do. But seeing all my peers and friends drop that hobby, I begin to question the validity of my interests. Am I just a child that can’t face reality? Do I need to grow up? The prevalent NEET Otaku stereotype doesn’t help matters either. I’m sure many of my peers faced similar questions, and decided to leave it behind in favour of new, more adult ways to spend their time.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit stubborn. I think it’s very important to assess our behavior and how we fit into society, but I can’t accept that getting excited over something like Umineko is merely a phase to grow out of. I can only speak for myself, but the answer I’ve reached is this. I want to build my adult life around this passion. Is that a strange answer? Anime, and it’s related culture, is such a big part of my life, such a big passion that I’m convinced I won’t grow out of it. It’s here to stay. So, I figure the best way to continue is to integrate it into my identity as an adult. I want to build a career around it. My inspiration has come about from seeing so many adults working in the industry who love Anime, and built their career around that love. I can’t imagine a better life than building a career around what you love; that’s what I want to emulate. Maybe I’ll end up selling Anime merch, maybe I’ll get into licensing series’, or maybe even localisation work. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but I want to be able to give something back, to integrate Anime and Manga and Games into my adult life. It just… Makes sense to me. Is that so strange?

So, I’ll be closing with some open messages. To those of you who may be unfamiliar with the culture, don’t be so quick to judge it. While there are many bad examples of Anime fandom, and heaps i’d really poor Anine, there’s a lot of his stuff out there. A lot of heart that goes into producing Anime, and some of the stories I’ve discovered through the medium have such profound messages, the likes of which can change a man’s life. Some have brought me to cry where I barely shed a tear anywhere else. Maybe if you give it a chance, you’ll find a series even you can appreciate. It’s just too broad to judge based on one or two impressions.

To those who have moved on from Anime, I wish you all the best. I’m sure you reached that decision after some careful deliberation, and while I’m still learning to cope with seeing some of my friends turn away, I can only respect their decision. I only ask that you don’t cast judgment on those of us who will continue to love that culture late into our lives. It was special; I hope you don’t forget that feeling.

And to those out there my age and older facing similar questions, don’t lose heart. Loving Anime doesn’t make you immature. You need to look inside yourself and decide if this is the kind of adult you want to be, and if it is, then you have my support. It’s not always easy to go against the crowd, but what’s most important is that you live your life for yourself, rather than based on what you think you SHOULD be doing. And most importantly, no matter how it may seem, you’re not alone.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let’s continue moving forward.

Posted in Musings, On The Chessboard | 15 Comments

Little Busters!: Common Route Day-By-Day Reflections


Hey guys! Just dropping by to let you know that I’ve been doing a little Reflection series at Since the 14th of May, I’ve been reading through the common route alongside the days of the month, writing a short reflection on each day. They’re getting longer and longer though, and if you’re a reader here then you probably like listening to my reflections~

If you’re a Little Busters fan, check it out! It may contain some spoilers though, so be wary.

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Angel Beats! Visual Novel: What We Know So Far


Hi guys! I’m not dead, just been very busy over at my new website Over on the forums, one of our community members, Bizkitdoh, has done work assembling a thread full of all the known details on the Angel Beats! Visual Novel. Remember my post about all the LB Anime details in the months and weeks leading up to it’s broadcast? It’s basically that kind of thing. If it interests you, go check it out!

On a side note, yes, I do intend to finish my Rewrite reflections, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer. Still lots of work to do on!

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Introducing A new community for Key fans.

Facebook Cover

I’m proud to formally announce a project I’ve been working on for a while now. Most of my readers will probably have already heard of it, but to those who haven’t, I present to you A new Key community.

I’ll let my post on the website do the talking.

I hope to see some of you there!

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Little Busters Anime Viewers: Here’s Some Cool Stuff You Missed!

So the Little Busters Anime has ended (Excluding EX coming soon) and I feel it’s time to make a post for the Anime viewers to show them some of the cool things they missed out on from the Visual Novel. This isn’t gonna be a whining post, nor is it gonna focus on changes made to the narrative – instead I’m gonna focus on some of the light-hearted content which didn’t or couldn’t make it to the Anime in their entirety. The Anime was only the tip of the iceberg of what Little Busters has to offer, so I’m going to share some of the cool things you’ll want to see!

The Batting Minigame


(Click above image for Youtube footage)

I’ve already talked at great length about the batting minigame in my other posts, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. There’s nothing more relaxing and therapeutic than hitting those balls around the field trying to rack up a combo. There’s no winning or losing; it’s just all about having fun with friends. Somehow, I feel these brief departures from the narrative really contribute to the feeling of camaraderie and friendship between the Little Busters.

 The Battle Rankings

I lost to Komari-chan

(Click the above image for Youtube footage)

These were briefly touched on in the OVA, but in the VN the Battle Rankings took place throughout the entire common route. You’d spend your time building up stats through batting practice and exchanging powerup items with other fighters, and in between your own battles you’d wander around school watching other fighters do their battles. They were always random and quirky, and it was endless entertaining to see the rankings change and the titles each character got. The variety of titles in the game was immense, no two playthroughs were the same. For me, the best part was that with enough luck, even the most unlikely person could win the battle rankings, as pictured above :P

Kyousuke’s One Question – One Answer


(Click the above image for Youtube footage)

Album of some screenshots here.

This was a funny little thing they included in the game with no connection to anything. At a random point in the common route, Riki is given the choice to scan a QR code. Later on, he’ll look it up on his phone and you’re taken to ‘Kyousuke’s One Question – One Answer’ website, where he answers random questions posted to him by other students. The answers are all hilarious and show just how great Kyousuke’s sense of humour is. He practically invented the AMA. And there’s so many of them! Over a hundred. If you want you can spend an hour or two just reading his answers. It gave me many good laughs when I bothered to read them all.

Kick the Can

Masato Dumfounded

(Click the above image for Youtube footage)

Here’s one a lot of fans were a bit bitter over its exclusion from the Anime. The Kick the Can scene accompanies many of the great group shenanigans scenes like the Test of Courage and the Puppet Show. There’s not much to say about it really – it’s just a game of Kick the Can, but the Little Busters own it perfectly. It’s easily one of the funniest scenes in the game, and it perfectly illustrates just how much fun the gang can get up to together.

Muscle Sensation

(Click above image for Youtube footage)

Lastly, the Muscle Sensation is a bonus mini-route included in the game if you can find it. It requires you to play with Masato at every opportunity you’re given (the alternatives are usually either do something plot-related or fight someone in the battle rankings). Once you do all of them and reach a certain scene, you can access the Muscle Sensation. I won’t spoil what happens, but it’s definitely the most hilarious and bizarre ending to the Visual Novel.

I’ll wrap it up here for now. If anyone has any suggestions for things to include on this list, then let me know in the comments and I might throw it in! I hope our Anime viewers enjoyed their journey through the story of Little Busters, and perhaps might consider someday playing the original game it was based off of! Little Busters Saikou!

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